Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour 2009

Saturday, March 28th from 8:30pm until 9:30 is the hour that we all turn our lights, our computers and our televisions off for (at least) one hour.

Earth Hour is both a symbolic act and the start of a practical habit, at least I hope it becomes a practical habit. Take it from me, someone who loves the dark and usually has most lights turned off, it can be a great experience.

Lighting accounts for about 11 percent of a typical American home's energy bills, while computers and electronics add another 9 percent. So by shutting off these things when we're not using them, we can lower our load significantly.

Turn your outside lights off also! I love looking at the night sky and find it almost impossible to find a truly dark spot to look for satellites, meteors and just the beauty of all the stars. Try getting timers or motion sensors so that the lights only come on when you need them. I recently bought some solar lamps to light the walkway to my deck. We need to use the sun more than we do.

Some famous buildings will be going dark on Saturday including: The Empire State Building in New York City, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the St. Louis Gateway Arch, the Sydney Opera House, the Sears Tower in Chicago, Seattle's Space Needle, the Great Pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Broadway theater marquees in New York City.

Even the flashy Las Vegas Strip will turn dark for an hour.

So turn off the lights - have a candlelight dinner or just sit and enjoy the darkness and turn off all those LED lights from TVs, radios, phone chargers, clocks, and everything else that glows.

Think of it as a retreat, a time to be quiet and peaceful. And you'll also save some money on your electric bill.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Guide For Head Injuries

Last week, when Natasha Richardson died so quickly after falling and hitting her head during a ski lesson, I wondered how often that happens to other people. Come to find out, it doesn't happen all that often. But, any head injury should be attended to. Here's a list of things to look for and do.

In most cases, it's pretty clear when someone needs medical attention after a head injury, says Greg Ayotte, a spokesperson for the Brain Injury Association of America and a cognitive rehabilitation therapist. "They're confused, they're agitated, or they might be dizzy or unresponsive," he says.

But then there's what doctors call the "talk and die" scenario, where someone seems fine, only to die hours, or sometimes even days later.

"Talk and die" can happen with several different kinds of brain injuries. In the case of epidural hematomas, the injury Richardson had, blood pools in the area between the lining of the brain and the skull. "Fluid is building up in a contained space, creating pressure. Something's got to give, and that something is the brain," Ayotte says. If you don't get to the hospital to have surgery to drain the fluid, "the deterioration can happen very quickly."

Here, from Ayotte and other experts, is a list of what to do after someone has suffered a head injury.

1. Be vigilant
Keep an eye on someone who has hit his head, even if the person never lost consciousness. "A lot of folks are still under the assumption that as long as you're not knocked out, you're OK, and that's not true," Ayotte says.

2. Look for dizziness, vomiting, headache and confusion
If the injured person has these signs, take him or her to an emergency room, says Dr. Jam Ghajar, clinical professor of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, and president of the Brain Trauma Foundation.

3. Look for changes in symptoms and behavior
Any sudden change, such as a headache going from mild to severe in minutes, means the person needs medical attention. For example, Ghajar says, if a person gets suddenly sleepy in the first 12 hours after a hit, it may mean the parts of the brain responsible for staying awake are experiencing pressure from a bleed.

4. Be especially wary if someone a) has been drinking alcohol, b) is on blood thinners, c) is elderly or d) is a young athlete
It's tough to distinguish brain-injured behavior from drunken behavior, so when in doubt, take the person to the hospital, Ghajar says. Also, blood thinners can turn a mild bleed into a major bleed, so be especially vigilant if the injured person is taking blood thinners such as warfarin.
He also warns people to be extra vigilant when an elderly person hits his or her head. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on traumatic brain injury and senior citizens. The CDC also has information on concussions in young athletes.

5. Go to a certified trauma center if you can
The American College of Surgeons has a list of certified trauma facilities; a hospital that's not a trauma center may not have a neurosurgeon on call. You can also look on this map from the American Trauma Society. Find your state, select trauma centers, update the map, and you can find information about trauma centers in your area.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baby Talk

I just got off the phone (not literally) from talking with my friend Dawn, the new mommy.

I did not expect a call so soon and it was such a surprise and so great to hear her voice. As with other new mothers, she's very tired. She told me about what she went through in those 38 hours of labor, and all I can say is that I am thankful she prevailed and she got to go home with a baby, which made it all worth it.

Here's her husband, Joe, who looks like a natural at being a dad.
Dawn said that Joe was a rock for her and gave her lots of support during the labor and birth. As I've said before, there is nothing that shows what a real man is more than how good he is as a husband and father. Looks like Joe's got both of those covered!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

20 Years Later - Still Reasons To Boycott Exxon/Mobil

Twenty years after the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil in Alaska's Prince William Sound, oil persists in the region and, in some places, "is nearly as toxic as it was the first few weeks after the spill," according to the council overseeing restoration efforts.

"This Exxon Valdez oil is decreasing at a rate of 0-4 percent per year," the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council stated in a report marking Tuesday's 20th anniversary of the worst oil spill in U.S. waters. "At this rate, the remaining oil will take decades and possibly centuries to disappear entirely."

The council's findings come two decades after the March 24, 1989 disaster, when the single-hulled Exxon tanker hit a reef, emptying its contents into Alaskan waters. The spill contaminated more than 1,200 miles of shoreline and killed hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine animals.

Captain convicted of misdemeanor
The council, made up of three state and three federal appointees, was created to administer the $900 million that Exxon paid to settle lawsuits filed after the accident, which also resulted in criminal charges against the ship's captain, Joseph Hazelwood.

Hazelwood, was accused but then acquitted on a charge of being drunk at the time. He was, however, convicted of negligent discharge of oil, a misdemeanor, and sentenced to a $50,000 fine and 1,000 hours of community service.

In the weeks and months following the spill, thousands of people tried to clean up the contamination. But two decades later, oil persists and is estimated to total around 20,000 gallons, according to the council. One of the lessons learned is that a spill's impacts can last a long time in a habitat with calm, cold waters like Prince William Sound, the council said.

"Following the oil and its impacts over the past 20 years has changed our understanding of the long-term damage from an oil spill," the council stated. "We know that risk assessment for future spills must consider what the total damages will be over a longer period of time, rather than only the acute damages in the days and weeks following a spill."

"One of the most stunning revelations" from studies over the last decade, the council said, "is that Exxon Valdez oil persists in the environment and, in places, is nearly as toxic as it was the first few weeks after the spill."

As a result, some sea otter populations as well as bird species have been slow to recover. Overall, some 200,000 seabirds and 4,000 otters were thought to have died from the contamination.

Oil found 450 miles away
Moreover, surveys "have documented lingering oil also on the Kenai Peninsula and the Katmai coast, over 450 miles away," according to the council.

None of that was expected "at the time of the spill or even ten years later," it added. "In 1999, beaches in the sound appeared clean on the surface. Some subsurface oil had been reported in a few places, but it was expected to decrease over time and most importantly, to have lost its toxicity due to weathering. A few species were not recovering at the expected rate in some areas, but continuing exposure to oil was not suspected as the primary cause."

It turns out that oil often got trapped in semi-enclosed bays for weeks, going up and down with the tide and some of it being pulled down into the sediment below the seabed.

"The cleanup efforts and natural processes, particularly in the winter, cleaned the oil out of the top 2-3 inches, where oxygen and water can flow," the council said, "but did little to affect the large patches of oil farther below the surface."

Sea otter concerns
That area is also biologically rich with mussels, clams and other marine life that help sustain sea otters and ducks.

"Sea otters usually have very small home ranges of a few square kilometers," the council said.

"In these small ranges, it is unlikely that the otters are avoiding areas of lingering oil when foraging.

As a result, "while overall population numbers in western Prince William Sound have recovered, local populations in heavily oiled areas have not recovered as quickly."

There is a plus side to the foraging by otters, since digging in oiled areas does release the contaminants to the water, where they are diluted and dispersed.

Bird concerns
The American Bird Conservancy issued its own warning, stating that while many bird species have recovered several significant ones have not.

The spill killed 5-10 percent of the world's population of Kittlitz's Murrelets, the group said, a species whose numbers declined 99 percent from 1972 to 2004.

"Prior to the spill, the rate of decline was 18 percent per year, but since 1989 that rate has increased to 31 percent," the group stated. "The growing impact of global warming in the Arctic and the melting of glaciers, caused by the burning of oil and other fossil fuels, may also be a factor in this decline."

Two other species cited are: the Pigeon Guillemot, whose populations have steadily declined throughout the sound since the spill; and the Marbled Murrelet, which has not met the recovery objective of a stable population.

The group cited a faster transition to double-hulled oil tankers as the best protection for wildlife. Single-hulled tankers are still allowed in U.S. waters until 2015.

"A similar requirement for double-hulled tankers needs to be made globally to protect birds and other wildlife from future spills," said Michael Fry, the group's conservation director. "Additional marine reserves and no-go zones for tankers during sensitive breeding and staging seasons should also be implemented to protect the most vulnerable species."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Haley Elizabeth's Second Day Of Life

Here are some more pictures of Dawn and Joe's baby daughter, Haley Elizabeth. What a doll!

It's love at first sight when you see a baby - look at those cheeks!!

She looks pretty serious for just being two days old. I wonder what she's thinking about.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Haley Elizabeth

Meet Haley Elizabeth Breault !!
She was born on Thursday, March 19 at 9:17pm after 38 hours of labor to my friends Dawn and Joe Breault. She weighed in at a healthy 8 lbs 2 ozs.
I am thrilled for them - the joy of a healthy child and the infinite possibilities of her life!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Avoid Metal Detectors And Magnets

Elaine Davidson, the Guiness World Record holder for the "most-pierced woman" just broke her own record, according to the U.K.'s Telegraph. When she was first awarded the title in 2000 she had 462 piercings. In this photo from May 16, 2008, Davidson poses for the camera in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland, showing some of the 5,920 piercings she had then.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Puff, Sympathy Gone

I've blogged before about how I don't really feel bad for people most of the time. I find that we all, myself included, create our own problems and it's hard to garner any sympathy most of the time.

I have, however, felt bad about Patrick Swayze. He's relatively young and has pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most deadly cancers. He was great in Ghost and it was fun watching him dance in Dirty Dancing.

Tonight I watched NBC Nightly News and left the TV on when one of the tabloid TV shows came on. They showed the "latest video" of Patrick Swayze and there he was walking on a sidewalk, smoking a cigarette!!!

My sympathy for him just went up in a puff of smoke.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Paraskevidekatriaphobia: Do You Have It?

It’s called paraskevidekatriaphobia: a morbid or irrational fear of Friday the 13th. It's believed that as many as 25 million Americans will change their behavior today because of superstition: They’ll stay away from shopping malls and won't set foot on airplanes. The cost of all this fear comes close to $800 million per day in lost business, according to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina.

So what’s the truth? Is Friday the 13th hazardous to your health? Are you better off staying home today? I’ve spent the last few years studying who lives and dies in all kinds of everyday crises. When it comes to Friday the 13th, there’s some good news, some bad news and one thing you can definitely do to improve your chances.

It's actually safer than an average FridayOn the bright side, a recent study suggests that Friday the 13th is actually safer than the average Friday. Dutch researchers with the Center for Insurance Statistics looked at traffic accidents, fires and thefts and found there were fewer incidents on Friday the 13th than regular Fridays. Do people drive and behave more carefully on Friday the 13th? Or do they just stay home, avoiding black cats and ladders? “I find it hard to believe that it is because people are preventatively more careful,” a Dutch statistician explains, “but statistically speaking, driving is a little bit safer on Friday 13th.”

Nothing to fear but fear itselfOn the dark side, a Finnish study in 2002 found that women have a 63 percent greater risk of dying in traffic accidents on that date. Simo Nayha, the Finnish researcher, believes that fear causes them to crash. “It is not inconceivable that on Friday the 13th,” Nayha writes, “women who are susceptible to superstitions obsess that something unfortunate is going to happen, which causes anxiety and the subsequent degradation of mental and motor functioning.”

The Finnish study is supported by earlier data published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers examined auto accidents on Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th over a three year period. “Friday 13th is unlucky for some,” they concluded. “The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended.”

Bottom Line: You might want to exercise extra caution on Friday the 13th, but you shouldn’t be afraid. Indeed, if you’re fearful of anything, you should worry about other people who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia. Avoid them on the roads. Steer clear of them on sidewalks. After all, it’s not the day or date that will get you. It’s the fear.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt would not travel on the 13th day of any month and would never host 13 guests at a meal. Napoleon and President Herbert Hoover were also triskaidekaphobic, with an abnormal fear of the number 13.

Many hospitals have no room 13, while some tall buildings skip the 13th floor and some airline terminals omit Gate 13.

The number 13 suffers from its position after 12, according to numerologists who consider the latter to be a complete number — 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of Jesus, 12 days of Christmas and 12 eggs in a dozen.

Butch Cassidy, notorious American train and bank robber, was born on Friday, April 13, 1866.

Fidel Castro was born on Friday, Aug. 13, 1926.

The ill-fated Apollo 13 launched at 13:13 CST on Apr. 11, 1970. The sum of the date's digits (4-11-70) is 13. And the explosion that crippled the spacecraft occurred on April 13 (not a Friday). The crew did make it back to Earth safely, however.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

There Was An Old Lady Who Lived In A...

So I moved again this past weekend. I'm not sure how many houses I have lived in over the years, but here's the list. You do the math.

Newborn home to New York Avenue, Providence

Toddler moved to Glenham Street, Providence

About 4 moved to 33 Lane 5, Warwick

At 11, moved to 121 Beacon Avenue, Warwick

At 18, moved to 699 Church Avenue, Warwick

At 18, moved back to 121 Beacon Avenue, Warwick

At 19, moved to 63 Commodore St, Providence

Then moved to 25 Hall St, Providence (1976)

Then moved to 260 Valley St, Providence (1976)

Then moved to 10 Vale St, Providence (1977)
During this time, I went to live in Florida with my Uncle Pete, which lasted all of 3 months. I returned home just in time for the blizzard of '78. While Michelle and Walter stayed at my apartment, I lived at:

The Castle, 200 Longmeadow Ave, Warwick

Then back to 10 Vale St, Providence

Then to Gough Ave, West Warwick

Then to Main St, West Warwick

Then to 51 Cromwell Avenue, Warwick

Then to Shaw Rd, Carver, MA (February,1988)

Then to I can't remember the street name, Onset, MA

Then to Barneyville Road, Swansea, MA

Then back to 51 Cromwell Avenue, Warwick

Then to WoodCove Road, Coventry

Then to Northup Plat Road, Coventry

Then to 183 Longmeadow Avenue, Warwick

Then to Old Baptist Road, North Kingstown

Then to Brayton Meadow, East Greenwich

Then to West Main Road, North Kingstown

Then to Stony Lane, North Kingstown

Then to Austin Road, North Kingstown

Then to 1st floor, present location, East Greenwich

Then to 2nd floor, present location, East Greenwich

I think that is it, though I do feel like I've forgotten something.

Moving sucks.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sooo Busy

I have been so busy, I've not had much time to post anything here.

Tonight and tomorrow, I am moving, thankfully upstairs is as far as I'm going.

Last week the carpets, tiles and paint were done in the upstairs apartment.

The week before, the old roof came off and the new roof went on.

There's been a dumpster outside for weeks!

I'm so pleased with our new President - just got an email that he has started the process of overturning the Bush administration rule that limits the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate reproductive health information and services.

Got another email that on Monday he will overturn the ban on federal funding for stem cell research!

How lucky are we to have a President who has common sense and compassion for all of us!!??